[DEBATE] : Alleging Coup Plot, Chávez Ousts U.S. Envoy
Riaz K Tayob
riaz.tayob at gmail.com
Fri Sep 12 08:30:38 BST 2008
The New York Times
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September 12, 2008
Alleging Coup Plot, Chávez Ousts U.S. Envoy
By SIMON ROMERO
CARACAS, Venezuela — President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela said Thursday
that he was expelling the American ambassador, Patrick Duddy, giving him
72 hours to leave the country. Mr. Chávez took this step after he said
his government had discovered an American-supported plot by military
officers to topple him.
He also recalled his ambassador to Washington, Bernardo Álvarez, and
explained his decision by expressing solidarity with Bolivia's embattled
president, Evo Morales, who on Wednesday expelled the American
ambassador there, Philip S. Goldberg, accusing him of supporting
rebellious groups in eastern Bolivia..
"When there is a new government in the United States, we'll send an
ambassador," Mr. Chávez said, using an expletive to refer to Americans.
The move by Mr. Chávez marks a low point in political relations with the
United States, which imported more than $40 billion in oil from
Venezuela last year. Trade between the countries has remained resilient,
topping $50 billion in 2007, despite repeated threats by Mr. Chávez to
halt oil exports to the United States, a warning he reiterated on Thursday.
Mr. Chávez also warned Bolivian opposition groups that he would support
an armed resistance movement in Bolivia if Mr. Morales, a close ally,
was removed in a coup. Protests in Bolivia intensified Thursday with at
least eight people killed in clashes, Reuters reported.
The United States and Venezuela have been sparring over a variety of
issues, like claims that Venezuela is growing as a transshipment point
for cocaine, Mr. Chávez's plans for military exercises with Russia's
navy in the Caribbean and the safety of Venezuela's airports for
The Chávez government said Thursday that it would reduce the number of
flights by airlines from the United States to Venezuela, which now
number about 70 a week, after the Bush administration complained that
American inspectors were not allowed to review the security of
The airline issue offers a window into tension over claims of drug
trafficking, with news reports here saying that government officials are
hesitant to allow inspectors into facilities thought to be used to
smuggle cocaine to the United States and Europe.
Mr. Chávez said Thursday that a plot to overthrow and assassinate him
had been uncovered and that the Bush administration was behind it.
Neither the State Department in Washington nor a spokeswoman at the
American Embassy here would comment on the expulsion and the latest
charges. On Wednesday night, state television here played what it
described as intercepts of phone discussions between active-duty and
retired military officers that referred to a plot to take Miraflores,
the presidential palace.
Mr. Chávez has claimed at least 26 times in the last six years that
there were plots to kill him, according to counts in the local media.
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